Intrigued to find out details of how billions of taxpayer money were looted from the state, the commission of inquiry into state capture will go down as one of the most important inquiries in South African history.
For much of the year, South Africans were captivated by the commission, which is being chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
It officially began its hearings on August 20, 2018.
Here are some of this year’s highlights:
1. Angelo Agrizzi
The former chief operations officer turned whistle blower was the first witness to testify at the beginning of 2019 and the many bombshells he dropped, implicating senior politicians, shocked the country.
Agrizzi testified that Bosasa (now African Global Operations) colluded with senior officials for more than 10 years, doctoring tender documents to help the company score lucrative contracts with the state.
Agrizzi also revealed that confidential National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) documents were leaked to Bosasa, particularly to late CEO Gavin Watson, by Linda Mti the former correctional services commissioner. Mti allegedly got the documents from the NPA’s Nomgcobo Jiba and Jackie Lepinka at the time.
2. Former president Jacob Zuma
In much-anticipated testimony, former president Jacob Zuma told the commission there had been a conspiracy to remove him since the 1990s.
Zuma, who was implicated by several witnesses, started by giving the inquiry background to his evidence. He claimed there was a long-running conspiracy to remove him.
“There has been a drive to remove me from the scene. A wish that I should disappear,” he said during his testimony.
“I have been vilified, alleged to be the king of corrupt people. I have been given every other name and I have never responded to those issues. Firstly, because I believe it is important that we all respect one another.”
He said in the 1990s he received an intelligence report which stated there were three intelligence organisations that met and discussed him. He did not name the organisations.
Zuma, who was the chief of intelligence of the ANC at the time, said the three organisations started a process of “character assassination” against him.
He also named former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi as a spy “who was recruited in Lesotho”.
The former president twice referred to Ramatlhodi’s own comments to the commission in November last year, when he accused Zuma of having “auctioned” the country to the Gupta family.
Senior government official Bruce Koloane during his testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture. (Photo by Gallo Images)
3. Former chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane
Bruce Koloane admitted he had abused the powers of his office to facilitate the Gupta Waterkloof landing in 2013, but he did not have control of diplomatic channels.
Koloane said he had abused the power of his office when he put pressure on senior officials to clear the landing at the restricted facility.
He added he had neglected normal administrative processes to allow the Gupta family to land their wedding guests at Waterkloof Air Force Base.
Following his testimony, the DA wanted him to be recalled as South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands.
Koloane resigned after being recalled by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
4. Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng
Motsoeneng told the commission this year he had never lied to the public broadcaster about his qualifications.
He said it was an “insult” for people to say he had lied about having a matric certificate. Motsoeneng was appointed acting COO in 2011.
He was later appointed permanently in the same position in July 2014, despite not having a matric certificate or university qualifications, as Fin24 earlier reported.
Motsoeneng also defended himself and said it was wrong for people to taint his name. He raised concerns, saying it was misleading to suggest he was the only person who made crucial decisions. He also denied he had made irregular appointments at the public broadcaster.
5. Sunday Times associate editor Ranjeni Munusamy
Sunday Times associate editor Ranjeni Munusamy came under the spotlight at the commission during the testimonies of senior Hawks investigator Kobus Roelofse and former crime intelligence officer Dhanajaya Naidoo.
First, Roloefse revealed to the inquiry that while investigating claims of corruption between crime intelligence officers and Atlantis Motors, based in Centurion, he was able to uncover an amount of R143 621.78. He said the amount was paid from the Atlantis Motors business account to a Wesbank vehicle finance account in the settlement agreement of the vehicle in the name of Munusamy.
Police whistle blower Naidoo told the inquiry several journalists, including Munusamy, were paid by crime intelligence. He claimed he had knowledge of three instances where the journalists were paid.
But Munusamy hit back, saying the allegations were “baseless against me”. She said she did benefit from any of the said funds.
Duduzane Zuma. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla
6. Duduzane Zuma
The son of South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma, Duduzane Zuma,told the Zondo commission he was not a corrupt man, despite narratives that paint him as the face of corruption.
During his testimony, Zuma said: “I am looked at as a criminal, a face of corruption, a guy that has plundered trillions out of the country which is not true.”
Zuma made the comments after former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas testified Duduzane had driven him to the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound, where he was allegedly offered R600m to take up the finance minister post.
However, Duduzane said serious rumours prompted him to facilitate a meeting between Jonas and businessman Fana Hlongwane.
7. Fana Hlongwane
Businessman Fana Hlongwane told the commission no ministerial post was offered to former finance deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas during a meeting he attended at the Gupta’s home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, in October 2015.
He said he held no brief for the Guptas, adding at the meeting, where he was present, no such offer was made to Jonas.
“One would have been in business with them for them to make whatever offers of that nature in my presence. I was not in business then, I am not in business now, I never was in business [with them].”